If you have looked at senior living options, you may have considered a continuing care retirement community (CCRC). Here’s what to know before moving into one:

A CCRC typically offers different tiers of living situations, from independent to assisted living to nursing care and, sometimes, a separate Alzheimer’s or dementia wing for memory support—all within the same campus. As a resident becomes less independent and more in need of services, they can shift from one level to another.

Explore Bethesda’s senior living communities across the St. Louis area.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services estimates that 52% of Americans turning 65 today will develop a disability serious enough to require long-term services and support in the future, though most will require it for less than two years.

Why Choose a Continuing Care Retirement Community?

Individuals who opt for a continuing care retirement community may no longer want the responsibility of maintenance and repairs on their own home. Others may want the advantages of a community and the activities that come with it.

“This is an opportunity to continue to learn, grow and find new social aspects of life,” says Jeff Petty, CEO and president of Wesley Enhanced Living, which operates several nonprofit CCRCs in Pennsylvania. Most people “want that social connection,” he added. “They want to be part of a community.”

Learn more about the importance of socialization for seniors.

Adult children sometimes initiate an older parent’s move to a CCRC, said Shelley Ballet, senior vice president of Wesley Enhanced Living. Other times, one spouse is declining—for example, can’t walk the stairs anymore—and that triggers the move.

Questions to Ask When Visiting a CCRC

Visiting during a CCRC’s open house, lunch, or another activity is a good way to begin learning more about the community. “It’s a process,” said Ballet. It may take two or more years to decide which CCRC is right for you and to complete all the research.

CARF International also recommends you check into these items:

  • Which services are available at the community? Which are included and which cost extra?
  • What amenities are offered?
  • What kind of contracts are available, ranging from the most extensive services to lesser services?
  • What are the fees for each type of contract?
  • Are there inspection reports that you can review?
  • Is any part of the entry fee is refundable when you move or pass away?

Through your research, you’ll want to determine whether the CCRC is right for you, and if you will feel comfortable in the setting for years to come.

The Cost of Continuing Care

One question many seniors should consider: how do you know if you can afford a CCRC? The price of the community will depend on the location, and costs tend to be commensurate with the median housing prices in the area, Petty said. Typically, residents pay an entry fee upfront and a monthly fee afterwards. Residents often sell their home as a way to finance the entry fee, and there are several types of contracts.

In addition to weighing the initial expense, prospective residents should look into the financial health of a CCRC: some have become insolvent. And knowing what is included in the contract is vital, Matthiesen said.

“Consumers should carefully review the terms of the residence and care agreement they intend to sign with the CCRC, since that is a legal document,” she said.

Matthiesen advised having a legal or financial adviser review the agreement prior to signing and to explore its provisions concerning potential negative situations.

“Consumers should also check with the Department of Insurance in the state where the CCRC is located regarding how that department licenses the CCRC and what consumer disclosure provisions and other protections are in place,” she added.

In addition, Matthiesen said, ask when the CCRC conducted its last actuarial study because “this type of study can help to identify potential financial risks to an organization as the population being served ages in place and may require more services.”

Home Sweet Home

Once you’ve found the community that is right for you, it’s time to apply for admission. When admitted into a continuing care retirement community, residents are often evaluated to make sure they are healthy and independent.

Bethesda’s senior living communities across the greater St. Louis area provide an evaluation and customized care plan, to ensure our residents receive the right level of care, at the right time.

Contact us to learn more, or schedule a tour at a community near you.


By Harriet Edleson for Next Avenue.

© Next Avenue – 2018. All rights reserved.

Whether in independent living, assisted living, memory care, or skilled nursing, Bethesda offers the right amenities, services, programming, and staff to make every day full of purpose. See for yourself and tour our independent living communities, including Bethesda Barclay House – Clayton, Bethesda Gardens – Kirkwood, Bethesda Orchard – Webster Groves, Bethesda Terrace – South County, Village North Retirement Community – Florissant, and The Oaks at Bethesda Villas – Kirkwood/Webster.